How to Avoid Holiday Child-Custody Battles

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on November 13, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Holidays are a time for family, but if you and your ex share custody of your children, that may be easier said than done. Even if you typically get along with your former spouse, sharing holiday time can bring out the worst in everyone.

It's no secret that this can be a difficult time to manage a custody arrangement. But instead of pretending it won't be a problem this year, it's time to deal with the issue ahead of time so that the holiday can be spent in peace.

Avoiding holiday custody battles will probably require some compromise and perhaps an uncomfortable conversation to go over the details. Still, that's better than an unhappy holiday for everyone.

If you're trying to figure out how your children will spend the holidays, the first thing to do is check the custody arrangement. Many arrangements set out which parent will have custody on various holidays and it may alternate by year.

That arrangement is binding, so make sure you know what the details are. You won't know what options are available until you take a look.

If you can't find a copy of it, don't assume one wasn't made. Give your attorney a call or find one who can help you get hold of old court documents and find out what they say.

Some custody arrangements can be altered only with the court's consent. If that's the case for you, make sure you take action as soon as possible if you want to make a change in time for the holidays.

Luckily, most arrangements can be easily altered if both parents agree.

When you're making arrangements, consider what holidays are most important to you, how you traditionally celebrate, and where you celebrate the holidays in relation to your spouse.

In some cases you might be able to offer half-days -- maybe breakfast or brunch at one home, followed by dinner at another. In other cases you may have to take alternate days.

When you talk to your ex about making arrangements, be willing to compromise. Nothing will bring discussions to a halt quicker than being unwilling to share time. In fact, if your ex is unwilling to negotiate, you may be able to use that unwillingness to get a court to order holiday custody, depending on the circumstances.

Because each custody case is different, you may want to post a question to our FindLaw Answers Forum on Child Custody and Support to gauge opinions from our online community of legal experts.

Dealing with holiday custody arrangements is rarely easy, but getting it settled ahead of time gives everyone a chance to figure out their plans and have a happy holiday. Cheers to that.

Do you have other questions about custody arrangements and how to navigate the process of getting custody? Check out our free mini guide on child custody and educate yourself.

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